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Madagascar is huge, roughly two and half times the size of Great Britain, and it’s difficult to know how to get the best out of your first visit without some insider knowledge. We would recommend, unless you have an abundance of time, visiting either the north or south of the country.

A sifaka in Berenty Private Reserve
A sifaka in Berenty Private Reserve

Cut off from the mainland Africa for millions of years, the island’s flora and fauna has evolved into unique species including 150,000 forms of life which are found nowhere else in the world, including all the numerous species of lemur.

It’s an undeveloped country and tourism is very new, which is one of the attractions, but it is also important to pack both a sense of humour and adventure.

Using the map below, two of Audley's Madagascar specialists, Victoria and James, highlight the routes they travelled and pick out a few of their favourite places along the way.

Map of Madagascar
Map of Madagascar

Victorias' route

Victoria takes us on a road trip around northern Madagascar (see map above).

Sampling lush vegetation, speared rock formations and untouched beaches, the highlight of the trip is always the weird and wonderful wildlife she encounters.

  • Fishing boat, Diego Suarez (Antsiranana), Madagascar

    Diego Saurez

    After a long journey I arrive into Diego Suarez, Madagascar’s most northerly point, and meet up with my personal guide and driver. From Diego we travel by road to Amber Mountain National Park passing through a small number of villages with stalls selling vanilla pods and home brewed rum.

    Read more about Northern Madagascar
  • Crowned lemur, Amber Mountain National Park (Montagne D'Ambre), Madagascar

    Amber Mountain National Park

    One hour after leaving Diego Suarez, I’m standing in the heart of the rainforest looking up at a troop of crowned lemurs feasting on berries above me. Amber Mountain is one of the most biologically diverse places in all of Madagascar with 75 species of bird, 25 species of mammals and 59 species of reptiles. Come evening you are ready to relax and enjoy some home cooked food followed by a glass of local rum. The Malagasy certainly know how to welcome you and after a couple of nights at one of our favourite lodges, such as Litchi, you soon feel at home.

    Read more about Amber Mountain National Park
  • Ankarana Special Reserve

    Ankarana Special Reserve

    Our journey today takes us south west along the coastal road stretching from Amber Mountain to Ankarana Special Reserve, a drive of about four hours. Arriving at Ankarana I am greeted with more food and welcome drinks before checking into my small but comfortable room. The thick rainforest I witnessed in Amber Mountain is replaced by sharp limestone needles, which dominate the landscape. At first glance Ankarana may feel like an inhospitable environment, however on closer look this reserve is home to one of the highest density of primates of any forest in the world.

    Read more about Ankarana Special Reserve
  • Nosy Komba, Madagascar

    Nosy Komba

    Leaving Ankarana the coastal road winds its way south to the small bay of Ankify where the coast line is protected by thick layers of mangroves. Wading out to our little speedboat, we leave the mainland and head across to the clear waters of the Nosy Be Archipelago to the beautiful forested island of Nosy Komba. After days of walking and lemur spotting, time spent on the beach is certainly a well earned reward. The focus is on good food and relaxation, however should you feel you haven’t seen your fair share of lemurs then take a guide and head north into the forests where you will have chameleons and black lemurs all to yourself.

    Read more about Nosy Komba

James' route

James takes on the classic traverse through the heart of the country.

He describes his journey from Antananarivo to Tulear (see map above) and reviews some of his favourite locations.

 

  • Chameleon, Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, Madagascar

    Andasibe National Park

    It was unmistakeable. An eerie, wailing cry emanating from deep within the rainforest. The call of the Indri, Madagascar’s largest lemur, was enough to make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Within a few minutes we had managed to locate them and I was able to observe a group of five propelling themselves through the trees. It was definitely one of my most exhilarating wildlife experiences. Located just four hours from the capital, Andasibe is justifiably one of the most popular parks in the country. Apart from the indri there are 10 other species of lemur including grey bamboo lemurs and diademed sifakas as well the spectacular Parson’s chameleon.

    Read more about Andasibe National Park
  • Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar

    Ranomafana National Park

    Complimenting Andasibe, Ranomafana is another wonderful national park. Staying at the comfortable Setam Lodge, I had a spectacular view of the rainforest stretching into the distance. Within the park we observed a number of lemurs including the Milne-Edwards’ sifaka with its delightful dark brown colourings, one of 12 species of lemur located here. I particularly enjoyed the night walks in this regard. The guides have a remarkable ability to pick out any number of animals by the mere reflection of their eyes.

    Read more about Ranomafana National Park
  • Ring-tailed lemurs, Anja Park, Madagascar

    Anja Park

    Heading further south we paid a brief visit to Anja National Park on the outskirts of Ambalavao. This is home to a number of ring tailed lemurs, one of the most iconic species within the country. It was October and many of the females had just given birth. With their young holding on grimly, piggy back style, the troupe made its way out onto open ground in search of water. Squatting down to drink it seemed a miracle that none of the newly born went spiralling over the shoulders.

    Read more about Anja Park
  • Verreaux's Sifaka, Isalo National Park

    Isalo

    As I approached the final section of my journey the scenery dramatically changed. The lush green, fertile farming areas were left behind and the terrain became increasingly arid. The area around Isalo is reminiscent of the American Mid West with huge sandstone outcrops providing the most dramatic scenery. Starting early to avoid the heat of the day I did some wonderful trekking through the park. A refreshing dip in a deep green pool surrounded by leafy trees soon followed in this oasis of tranquillity. Later in the afternoon we headed to La Fenetre, a natural rock formation, providing the ideal vantage point to view the setting sun. It was the perfect spot for a sundowner drink.

    Read more about Isalo

Madagascar country fact file

Population: 20.6 million.
Area: 587,041 square kilometres.
Languages: Malagasy and French.
Religions: Malagasy mythology, Christianity and Islam.
Best time to visit: July to November.
Flight time from London to Antananarivo: 13 hours 50 minutes (including connection in Paris).

Find out more about Madagascar

  • Chameleon, Madagascar

    Madagascar

    Book a safari holiday to Madagascar and experience one of the world's most unique islands. Isolated from the rest of the world, there were no large predators; here wildlife evolved on its own distinct path. Of Madagascar’s 200,000 species, more than 80% are endemic.

How to Book

1. Contact

Whether you wish to plan your trip around this itinerary idea or you have other ideas, please do get in touch by phone or online. If using our online form, a destination specialist will contact you by phone to discuss your requirements.

2. Discuss

Our destination specialists have the first hand knowledge required to put your plans into action. They can answer your questions, offer suggestions and advice to suit your tastes and budget.

3. Refine

Your specialist will carefully design your trip, creating a detailed itinerary which you will receive in the post and online. Your specialist will answer any further questions you have and refine it until you are completely happy.

4. Confirmation

Once you are satisfied with all the arrangements, we ask you to complete a booking form and pay a deposit of 15% of the total cost of your trip.

5. Staying In Touch

Even after booking, you’ll undoubtedly think of more questions. Feel free to call your specialist at any time. The same specialist will handle your trip from start to finish.

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